If given a choice between an animal suffering or not, the general public would tend to choose the option in which the animal doesn’t suffer. However this is not reflected in our food choices as we tend to buy conveniently and cheaply.
We have a vicious circle going on: Many people have suggested to me that they would buy the cruelty-free alternatives if they were competitively priced, but unfortunately these tend to exceed what we expect to pay for an item. Consequently the price will stay high until there is more of a demand but there won’t be a demand until the price comes down. Sigh.
So I’ve tried to find the alternatives that aren’t going to ‘break the bank’…
Alternatives to Cow’s Milk
People fear change but when it comes to finding a cow’s milk alternative, there are so many alternatives that you’re bound to find one that you like. Off the top of my head, I can think of…
When I compared the prices of the different types of milks (in Tesco) I fully expected that cow’s milk would come in as the cheapest, given the demand is so high (compared to other milks) but I was very surprised to find the following results (for 1 litre):
- SOY MILK CAME IN CHEAPEST AT 59p
- Next was cow’s milk at 66p
- Then almond milk and coconut milk came in as the most expensive at £1.40
Unfortunately this is not the case in all countries and soy milk is only cheapest where the demand is increasing. By speaking with friends, I have learnt that in countries like Qatar or Estonia, the price of soy milk is significantly more expensive than cow’s milk, making it unrealistic for people to make the transition.
Another cost-effective, alternative to cow’s milk is to make your own milk. Almond milk is one of the most common milks that people like to make themselves and it doesn’t involve squeezing each almond individually! If you’d like a recipe, click here.
People may worry that by switching to a cruelty-free, plant-based milk that they could be missing some of the nutrients that we get from cow’s milk. Fortunately, plant-based milks are normally fortified with those lovely vitamins and minerals. Also, by avoiding cow’s milk we also avoid the rGBH hormones (and other hormones given to the cow’s to produce more milk), steroids, blood and pus!
The main thing to remember is that cow’s milk is for baby cows.
Quorn is an incredibly yummy and healthy alternative to meat. Quorn was once a vegetarian substitute (as it contained egg) but they have recently started producing vegan Quorn too!
My favourite Quorn items are the chicken substitutes. I was never a fan of meatballs or sausages when I ate meat, so it makes sense that I’m not so keen on the imitations either. Mega friend Mark also tried the Quorn sausages for World Vegan Day and admitted he wasn’t sold on the texture. I’m sure Quorn will perfect it one day though!
We can compare the Quorn vegan chicken pieces with one of the healthiest meats: diced chicken breast. Chicken breast is a great source of protein and very little saturated fat.
Then if we look at the Quorn chicken pieces we see that they are also a great source of protein.
Again, people will argue that vegetarian and vegan substitutes are far pricier than the real thing. However, Quorn is incredibly competitive when compared to the price of meat. For 280g we can purchase Quorn vegan chicken pieces from Ocado for £1.67 and the equivalent from Lidl for diced chicken breast is £1.49 (offer found on 19/12/2016).
Finally we should compare the most important point of all: Quorn vegan chicken pieces are 100% cruelty-free whereas diced chicken breasts are not.
My Personal Winner: Quorn vegan chicken pieces.
So if you are ever looking for a tasty alternative to meat then I would definitely recommend the Quorn chicken items – especially the garlic and mushroom escalopes (warning: not vegan, but vegetarian 😀).
Tofu is another great alternative to meat and also super cheap. You can find it in most supermarkets but in my experience, I would always get the best price at a local chinese market or store.
Not only is tofu incredibly cheap but it has an amazing calorie to protein ratio. For every 100 calorie serving, tofu contains 11g of protein. To compare, 100 calories of ground beef provides 8.9g of protein, and a 100 calorie serving of cheese contains 6.2g.
One of the best things about tofu is that it is super adaptable and can take on any flavour. It’s a staple in oriental cooking but can be applied to most cuisines. I personally love to remove all the moisture from the tofu, fry it and season with tamari. The result is a lovely flavour, crispy shell but beautifully soft inside. Yum!
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast which gives a beautiful, nutty and cheesy flavour to anything you add it to. I personally like to use it instead of vegan cheese alternatives.
Not only does nutritional yeast taste great, but it is also fortified with vitamin B12 (and some other vitamins) which is the one thing that us pescatarians/vegetarians/vegans are lacking (as B12 gets fed directly to the animals before slaughter). What a wonderful and cruelty-free way of gaining our daily dose of B12. (Marmite is also a great source of B12!) If you’d like to buy nutritional yeast and you can’t find it in the shops, then you can easily order it from Amazon using this link.
The perfect substitute for any vegan’s chocolate craving is plain chocolate. Plain chocolate normally has a higher content of cacao (making the taste sometimes more bitter) than milk chocolate and also doesn’t contain milk (although this can differ by brand). Not only is it widely available but it is also priced within the same range as the other types of chocolate.
Another good reason to rid milk chocolate from your diet is health motivated. A study was conducted where they compared people who ate white chocolate to people who ate plain chocolate. They found that the people who ate plain chocolate had lower blood sugar level, improved LDL or “bad” cholesterol and improved HDL or “good” cholesterol. For more info on the study please click here.
Chocolate mixed with alternatives to cow’s milk, such as rice milk or soy milk, are now slowly becoming available and will most definitely be stocked in your local health food shop. These types of chocolate are much more smoother and sweeter than plain chocolate.
Oreos are another very-reasonably priced (and surprisingly vegan!) sweet treat. It can be argued that they are not because they contain sugar which has been whitened using bone char (animal bones which have been charred), but this is not true for most sugars in the UK.
Alternatives to Honey
Maple syrup and agave nectar are great alternatives to honey. Honey and agave nectar offer no health benefits whereas Canadian Maple Syrup is in abundance of them. Canadian maple syrup is not only one of the most delicious things on the planet, but it is an incredibly good source of manganese, riboflavin (vitamin b2) and zinc. It is also a source of magnesium, calcium and potassium.
If vitamins are important to you then please make sure you get the genuine Canadian maple syrup and not an alternative. Maple syrup is definitely more expensive, but absolutely worth it when it comes to taste!
Non-Dairy Ice Cream
There are now a wide variety of alternative ice creams, normally made from rice milk or soy milk. I can report that both alternative ice creams are similarly priced to dairy ice cream and as yummy.
To compare the nutritional data of both dairy and non-dairy ice cream, I found two ice creams which were similar in price per 100ml:
I was hoping that non-dairy ice cream would outshine dairy ice cream with it’s amazing health benefits but alas, they are both unhealthy. So as there is little difference in taste, price and nutrition… why not choose the one in which an animal doesn’t suffer?
Replacing Eggs with Bananas
And finally a wonderful, cruelty-free and healthy way to bake etc…. With bananas!
Eggs are surprisingly one of the cruelest products to come out of the factory farming industry, please see my previous articlefor more details. So when you can avoid them, why not? Bananas offer a great alternative to eggs when baking and they are also super healthy! I’ve not known anyone that claims to eat cake because they would be getting protein from the egg, however I have known several people to complain about the calories in a cake. You’ll be happy to know that a cup of mashed bananas contains just over half the calories than a cup of eggs would.
Also for you banana haters, you’ll be happy to know that there is not a strong flavour of banana when using them in replacement of eggs, just a lovely texture! My favourite replace-an-egg-with-a-banana recipe has to be Vegan Banana French Toast. It is super yummy and if I can make it, any one can!
One of the most amazing things about humans is that we have a choice… And when the cruelty-free alternative is as tasty, same price and sometimes even healthier, why not choose that one?
Thanks for reading and please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know about other alternatives.